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Where the Turkeys Run

River, rocks, trees
Turkey Run State Park, Parke County, Indiana

I went to bed feeling like Jell-O last night and woke up feeling like a rubber band about to snap.


Major hiking. At least it was major for me.

My friend, C, and I went to Turkey Run State Park on the west side of Indiana. She had never been there, and I had been there numerous times in my younger days, but it had been a long time since I climbed those sandstone masses.

We hiked over 7miles, 18,000 steps, and 74 stories according to her smarty-pants watch. We both are feeling every bit of those steps this morning.

There were only a few cars in the lot when we parked to embark on our hiking adventures. A few hours later, when the lot was filled, we were so glad we came when everybody else was sleeping in or going to church.

The start of the trails is at the suspension bridge over Sugar Creek. This bridge is much sturdier than the rickety span of boards and rope I remember crossing as a child.

The former bridge looked similar to one that would be used in an Indiana Jones movie--ready to snap and propel any travelers into the depths below. At least, that is my memory of it.

In any case, there is a newer, sturdier version of the Indiana Jones bridge now. While it still sways as people tromp across it, it has only a tenth of the terror factor the old bridge had. Maybe a hundredth.

C on the suspension bridge

Yours truly on the suspension bridge

The best trail (in my opinion) is #3 which starts at the other side of the non-Indiana Jones bridge. If you go the right way, you land immediately in the deep ravines between giant sandstone layers. Trees cling by their roots to the sides. In some places, there is only a narrow ledge for walking.

C standing in the Ice Box at Turkey Run


There are trails that have a million stairs going up, or what feels like a million by the time you breathlessly reach the top. There are rocks to climb, trees to use as balance beams, amazing views from up high down at the river below.

There are easy trails. There is an old coal mine--entry blocked, of course.

There is an old house from the Salmon and Mary Lusk family that settled the area--entry blocked, of course.

There is a covered bridge built in 1882. The bridge is made of massive, arched, oak beams in typical bridge fashion, then for cover, it has a barn-like structure over the span.

Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a nerd--a lot of a nerd--that I notice construction wherever I go. I find it fascinating.

We saw a little blue salamander. They normally hide, but he was out enjoying a bit of sun.

We heard water trickling in streams and running over an area of rapids in the main river.

Fall is probably the best time to hike at Turkey Run. The trails are relatively dry. You don't have to wade through any creeks to keep going on the trail.

But the prettiest part are all the colors that pop out in every direction. Brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows.

We met Mr. and Mrs. Minnesota there. They were a nice couple who were taking a day of rest from their Indiana activities and travelling before winding their way back to Minnesota via Iowa.

We chatted with Mr. Scotland. Actually, I don't know for sure he was from Scotland, but he had an accent that proclaimed he was from somewhere in that part of the world.

And there were others we kept seeing on this trail or that, and we'd greet them, and they would greet us. Indiana is a friendly state in general.

So if you're anywhere near the west side of Indiana, take a day to see the sights at Turkey Run State Park. If you're farther out, plan a trip to stay at the inn on the park grounds or use the campground.

As you're driving up to the park, you may wonder why in the world you took time out to see farmland and hills, because that is what surrounds the area, then it's shocking to see what is hiding in the woods of Parke County, Indiana.

And I'll leave you with a few more random pictures from our adventures.

Snake weed along Trail 4, I think

Huge burl in a tree along Trail 1

Sugar Creek

Sugar Creek


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